I had such a sweet day - two incredible and very different wedding rehearsals - for two very different and truly blessed young couples. After a three hour feast with one family, I gave thanks to God for my kind of small community ministry: we get to build deep relationships over a long period of time. And tomorrow - when we enter into the marriage ceremonies - there will be BIG feelings, lots of love and joy that is full to overflowing.
When I got home I found out that one of my three remaining sisters is in critical care tonight. Her health is horrible in general, but things are going from bad to worse. And, of course, my father continues to struggle with kidney issues while trying to regain his strength; he has been in a wheel chair for 3 weeks and there are question marks aplenty about whether he, too, will ever be able to return to independent living.
And isn't that the fullness of this life? Both sorrow and celebration? Rejoicing and grief all wrapped together? I suspect that this may be the year when we say good-bye to them both - in some ways I am ready - and in other ways I fear it like a child.
I think of the Roman Catholic tradition of honoring Our Mother of Sorrows - Mary - in her walk through this life. Her story begins with awe and deep faith, moves through teaching a young Jesus about compassion until he becomes "the Lamb of God." She watches her sweet child give himself over to the cruelty of the world - she was with him at the Cross - only to experience Jesus raised to new life by the love of God. She has known it all - sorry and celebration - and often both together.
Tonight this old Prod is praying: Hail Mary...
Hail Mary, full of grace.
Our Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
Maybe I feel called here tonight because during one of the rehearsals I had invited a local Roman Catholic priest to join me. I haven't concelebrated ANYTHING since my days in Saginaw when I lived in a former Diocesan convent and hung sometimes with one of the real "people's" bishops Ken Untener from time to time. Life has changed in Protestant-Catholic relations a LOT since the early 80s. Or maybe it is because so many of the young people in BOTH weddings are sad former Catholics - and in a very real way - I share their sadness about the state of their church. And, of course, I have simply come to cherish Our Lady as part of my own prayer life.
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